Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics

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General Editor: Georgios K. Giannakis
Associate Editors: Vit Bubenik, Emilio Crespo, Chris Golston, Alexandra Lianeri, Silvia Luraghi, Stephanos Matthaios

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The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (EAGLL) is a unique work that brings together the latest research from across a range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of Ancient Greek. It is an indispensable research tool for scholars and students of Greek, of linguistics, and of other Indo-European languages, as well as of Biblical literature.

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(2,270 words)

Author(s): Francisca Hoogendijk
Abstract Palaeography is the study of ancient writing systems and their development over time. Ancient Greek palaeography is mainly based on evidence on stone and pottery from Greece and elsewhere (see also Epigraphy) and on papyrus and pot sherds, mainly from Egypt (see also Papyrology). The general characteristics of ancient Greek handwriting gradually develop over time, from angular individual characters in the 8th c. BCE into a fluent cursive script in the Byzantine period. 1. The Development of the Greek Alphabet The Greek alphabet (Alphabet, Origin of; Local Scripts) …
Date: 2013-11-01


(1,493 words)

Author(s): Michael Ellsworth
Abstract Palatalization is a process by which a consonant comes to be pronounced with the tongue against or near the hard palate. Between the time of the Indo-European break-up and Classical Greek, the Greek language underwent three separate palatalizations, contributing in no small part to the distinctive shape of Greek in general as well as to the differentiation of the Greek dialects from each other. The first palatalization, occurring before the Myc. period, affected all dialects, but only palatalized t and th before * y; a related process whereby t and th became Gk. s before i is unde…
Date: 2014-01-27


(2,696 words)

Author(s): Panagiotis Filos
Abstract Pamphylian was an ‘aberrant’ Ancient Greek dialect or, more accurately, a distinctive linguistic variety of Greek spoken for the largest part of the first millennium BCE in the southern coastal area of Pamphylia in Asia Minor. The small corpus of written evidence (short inscriptions, especially funerary, coin legends, few glosses, etc.) points to a special form of Greek: on the one hand, there was some degree of indigenous Anatolian influence and on the other, some remarkable novelties n…
Date: 2014-01-22

Papyri, Language of

(2,486 words)

Author(s): Patrick James
Abstract Greek documents of various kinds from Egypt are an invaluable source for the study of sociolinguistic variation by status, age, gender, context, domain, and register, in a multilingual society, over the course of more than a millennium (4th c. BCE-8th c. CE). In particular, archives of documents collected in Antiquity enable us to examine the language of individuals or communities with supporting information about their social context and, sometimes, their level of education. The key tas…
Date: 2013-11-01


(2,257 words)

Author(s): Klaas Worp
Abstract Papyrology is the study of ancient texts written on papyrus. Before the invention of paper making, papyrus was the writing material in Classical antiquity. Most papyrus texts have been found in Egypt; they are written in Greek and date from the period 330 BCE – ca 800 CE (divided into the Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine-Arabic periods). They are unique primary sources for our knowledge of the culture and society of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Texts written on other materials, such as potsherds (ostraca), tablets o…
Date: 2013-11-01


(9 words)

Abstract   See Coordination (includes Asyndeton) Bibliography  
Date: 2014-01-27


(2,233 words)

Author(s): Michel Buijs
Abstract A participle (ptc.) is, as part of the Greek verbal system, characterized for diathesis and either for verbal aspect (pres., aor., or pf. ptc.), or for tense (fut. ptc.); at the same time, it shows nominal features, as it is characterized for case, number and gender. As such, it takes a position in between the adjective and the verb, and is therefore often regarded as a verbal adjective. Arguments and peripheral elements like adjuncts or disjuncts can be added to the participial nuclear predication. A ptc. can be negated; the negative is ou, but it is mḗ when the ptc. expresses a c…
Date: 2013-11-01

Participles (Morphological Aspects of)

(1,969 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract Participles are verbal forms that can have aspect but not tense, and can have direct and indirect objects. Their stem morphology is verbal, but their inflectional morphology is nominal, and they function syntactically as either adjectives or nouns. There is an extraordinary amount of variation of participial forms in Indo-European (IE) languages; English only has two ( breaking, broken); Latin has four (amātus, amāns, amātūrus, amandus) ; Ancient Greek and Sanskrit have up to a dozen. The details of the evolution of these participial systems are also diff…
Date: 2013-11-01

Particles (Formal Features)

(5,242 words)

Author(s): Kateřina Bočková Loudová
Abstract The term ‘particle’ (from Lat. particula ‘a small part’) in Greek linguistic terminology denotes a group of ‘small’ indeclinable words which are synsemantic, i.e., they neither carry lexical (autosemantic) meaning nor are they deictic, but their meaning can only be drawn from the contextual connection with autosemantics or deictics. Functionally, they can only be differentiated from other synsemantic words (conjunctions or prepositions) very generally, i.e., as expressions implying character …
Date: 2013-11-01

Particles (Syntactic Features)

(5,273 words)

Author(s): Antonio Revuelta
Abstract The term ‘particle’ is one of those labels that do not refer to a clear linguistic category, and for this reason it should be avoided. The so-called Greek particles include conjunctions, focus particles, disjunct adverbials and discourse connectors. This article presents a brief classification of the so-called Greek particles according to modern linguistic parameters and discusses a subset of them, the discourse connectors, and the role they play in discourse cohesion. 1. Definition The label ‘particle’ is one of those ghost terms that populate language descr…
Date: 2014-01-27

Passiva Tantum

(257 words)

Author(s): Rutger Allan
Abstract Passiva tantum (passive deponents) are verbs which do not have an active voice and have a passive aorist form (with suffix -ē-/ -thē -).      Passiva tantum (‘passive only’) are verbs which do not have an active voice and have a passive aor. (with suffix - ē-/- thē-; Passive (morphology)). Passiva tantum have a mid. (mediopassive) inflection in the pres. and pf. stems (Middle, Mediopassive). In the fut. stem, they may have a mid. ( -so-mai) or a passive ( -( th) ḗsomai) form, e.g. 1 pres. mid. boúlomai ‘want’, aor. pass. eboulḗthēn, pf. mid. beboúlēmai, fut. mid. boulḗsomai. Passiva …
Date: 2013-11-01

Passive (Morphology)

(608 words)

Author(s): Rutger Allan
Abstract In the  aorist and  future stems, a separate  passive voice is distinguished in opposition with the  active and middle voice. The passive voice is marked by the morphemes - thē- and - ē-. In the aorist and future stems, Ancient Greek distinguishes a separate passive voice (Passive (syntax)) in opposition to the active and middle voice (Mediopassive, Diathesis/Voice (Morphology of)). In the pres. and pf. stems, pass. meaning is expressed by the mid. (mediopassive) voice. The passive voice is marked by the variant morphemes - thē- and - ē- which follow the verbal stem. The s…
Date: 2013-11-01

Passive (Syntax)

(947 words)

Author(s): Rutger Allan
Abstract Ancient Greek has three morphologically distinct voice categories: act. voice, mid. voice and pass. voice. In the literature on Ancient Greek voice, the term pass. voice may refer to (1) the grammatical construction in which an entity undergoing the event is selected as the subject of the clause, (2) the formation marked with the suffix - thē- or - ē-. In the literature on Ancient Greek voice, the term pass. voice may refer to two different notions. First, the pass. voice can refer to the grammatical construction in which an entity undergoing the…
Date: 2013-11-01

Patient and Theme

(1,000 words)

Author(s): Luz Conti
Abstract Patient and Theme are two of the semantic functions attributable to the second argument of transitive verbs. This entry analyzes the concept of Theme as the semantic content of the second argument of transitive verbal predicates, comparing it with the Patient and its morphosyntactic and structural characteristics.    Patient and Theme are two of the semantic functions attributable to the second argument of transitive verbs (Transitivity). Together with the Result, the Patient is the most habitual role of the second argument of transitive verbs. The prototyp…
Date: 2013-11-01


(873 words)

Author(s): Thomas Smitherman
Abstract This article summarizes patronymic forms appearing in the various Greek periods and dialects, their lexical/morphological origins and the frequency and parameters of their use.  Examples of ancient patronymics from Mycenaean are provided. Ancient Greek nomenclature owes much to Indo-European naming practices, which is clear from the Mycenaean evidence (dating from the 13th century BCE) as well as the Homeric poems (dated to the 8th century BCE and composed to evoke Bronze Age society). Greek men and women were given only one name, f…
Date: 2014-01-27


(2,247 words)

Author(s): Klaas Bentein
Abstract This article discusses the Ancient Greek Perfect from both a synchronic and a diachronic point of view, from Archaic to post-Classical Greek. After giving an overview of three main approaches towards the semantics of this grammatical category, it focuses on the cross-linguistic approach, showing that the Perfect has undergone a semantic shift from resultative to perfective past.  1. Introduction The term ‘Perfect’ is commonly used to refer to a morphological category of Ancient Greek. Of course, what is called ‘Perfect’ by traditional grammar…
Date: 2013-11-01

Perfect, Formation of

(2,378 words)

Author(s): Martin Kümmel
Abstract The Ancient Greek perfect was formed from a special perfect stem combined with specific affixes and endings. The perfect stem was mainly formed by reduplication (or similar processes), and it originally exhibited root ablaut. Later this alternation was often modified or given up; instead, a new suffix -k- arose in the active. Only the perfect indicative had specific endings in the active, whereas the active participle preserved its own suffix. The active endings were partly remodelled under the influence of the aorist, while in the active pluperfect a marker -e- developed. The…
Date: 2013-11-01


(1,751 words)

Author(s): Liana Lomiento
Abstract ‘Period’ indicates a certain metrical length, similar to the notion ‘verse’. In ancient rhythmical terminology it has the technical meaning of a sequence within which simple and unequal feet recur in a regular order (such as, for example, iambus and trochee). In modern scholarship it assumes the two distinct meanings, both related to the metric level, of ‘melic verse’ and ‘section of a strophe’. 1. Introduction ‘Period’ indicates a certain metrical length, similar to the notion ‘ verse’. In ancient rhythmical terminology it has the technical meaning of a…
Date: 2013-11-01

Personal Names

(2,716 words)

Author(s): Christina Katsikadeli
Abstract Tens of thousands of Greek personal names have survived in literary and epigraphic sources, some of which are still common first names in our times. The conservatism in name giving ensured, directly or indirectly, the preservation of information pertaining to many central aspects of the Greek world (history, mythology, religion, literature, aspects of daily life). Names often reflect earlier stages of the language, and their study (as a major part of onomastics) offers valuable insights into the interplay of cultural and linguistic development. Personal names differ fr…
Date: 2013-11-01

Personal Pronouns, Use of

(2,068 words)

Author(s): Carlotta Viti
Abstract The use of Ancient Greek personal pronouns is analyzed according to their different clitic, stressed and implicit forms. Various similarities and differences are considered between the usage of personal pronouns in Ancient Greek and in other early and modern IE languages, especially in Modern Greek.   Personal pronouns were included by Greek grammarians in the category of the antōnumía ‘pronoun’, whose use is described in a specific monograph written by Apollonius Dyskolus (2nd c. CE). Accordingly, personal pronouns such as egṓ ‘I’ are considered the ‘prototype’ ( protótup…
Date: 2013-11-01